Maverick Viñales' lackluster 2021 season has caused another casualty. Today, Yamaha announced that his crew chief Esteban Garcia would be leaving his role with immediate effect, to be replaced by Silvano Galbusera. Galbusera was the easy choice, as the Italian veteran is already involved with Yamaha as the crew chief working in the test team, working with Cal Crutchlow to help develop the YZR-M1.
The change has perhaps been predictable. Viñales has been making veiled comments about his team making the wrong decisions during the weekend. After last Sunday's race at Mugello, Viñales criticized the decision to stick with the medium front tire instead of switching to the soft, with which the Spaniard had had a much better feeling on Friday.
"I just went to the medium [front], and then the problems started," Viñales had said on Sunday afternoon. "So I don't know why we didn't try the soft front. So I think we didn't pay enough attention to that, because then in FP1, the first laps, I felt fantastic."
Dropping Esteban Garcia is a remarkable move by Maverick Viñales. Garcia was the crew chief with whom Viñales won his Moto3 title in 2013, and had come to MotoGP at the request of Viñales to replace the experienced veteran Ramon Forcada for the start of the 2019 season.
Forcada switched to the Petronas Yamaha SRT team where he is crew chief for Franco Morbidelli, and he helped Morbidelli to a second place in the Covid-19-stricken 2020 MotoGP championship.
Garcia's replacement, Silvano Galbusera, is no stranger to the factory Yamaha team. Galbusera was crew chief to Valentino Rossi for five years, coming in to replace Jeremy Burgess after Rossi sacked Burgess at the end of the 2013 season, then making way for Rossi's current crew chief, David Muñoz, at the start of 2019.
Viñales gets another chance to make progress at Barcelona, one of his favorite tracks, and a circuit where he has been fast in the past. The Spaniard will be working with Galbusera at Barcelona from the start of FP1 on Friday.
The press release from Yamaha appears below:
ESTEBAN GARCIA AND MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP TEAM MUTUALLY AGREE TO END WORK RELATIONSHIP
Montmeló (Spain), 3rd June 2021
Yamaha Motor Racing Srl confirm that at the end of the Italian GP Esteban García Amoedo and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team have mutually agreed to terminate their working relationship with immediate effect.
Following the Italian GP, Esteban García Amoedo and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team have mutually agreed to end their working relationship with immediate effect. Silvano Galbusera will take over the role of Crew Chief for Maverick Viñales for the remainder of the 2021 MotoGP season.
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd, Yamaha Motor Racing Srl, and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team members take this opportunity to thank Garcia for the time they spent working together and wish him all the best for the future.
MASSIMO MEREGALLI - TEAM DIRECTOR
Esteban joined our team in 2019. He and Maverick had already worked together before in 2013 and won the Moto3 World Championship that year. We are very grateful to Esteban for his dedication and passion during our time spent together, which led to eleven podiums for Maverick, including four wins, three second places, and four third places. Saying ’Goodbye‘ to one of our crew members is always a sad occasion, but it was a mutual decision based on what‘s best for both parties. We wish Esteban all the best for the future.